Certainly one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the production of Obi-Wan Kenobi has been why they had to have Hayden Christensen back as Darth Vader. While we tried to answer the question in our report from last August when we showed some of the concept art for the series (something that has already paid off in the show), we knew Vader was not going to be unmasked the entire time. So what was so important about bringing Hayden back, when anyone could wear the suit?
We now know that multiple stunt people were inside the suit during production, and one of them was Ukrainian-American actor Dmitrious Bistrevsky (credited as “Darth Vader performance artist” in the episodes). Bistrevsky posted a message on social media clarifying that, even though multiple people were instrumental in bringing Darth Vader to life, it was Hayden Christensen who played the most important part, as this is his character and his arc, and he was the driving force of the team on set. He wrote:
“Thank you. We all gave everything to it. Hayden is Darth Vader, he’s been Darth Vader since his transformation in Episode 3. This is his character, this is his story, the story of Anakin Skywalker, the chosen one, the Fallen one. Reborn as Darkness himself. I am a suit actor trained in physical theatre and movement as well as happen to be 6’7. So it makes sense to have something to scale in shots that show perspective. Hayden wore the suit, Tom wore the suit, I wore the suit. And we created this Darth Vader as a team to try and make the best Darth Vader shown in Cinematic History. But it required a team effort. There were 5 of us total that contribute to the performance of Darth Vader, it took an entire village because we knew the fans deserve perfection so that’s what we gave them. Dorian Gregory, Olga Sokolova, Dmitrious Bistrevsky (myself), Tom O’Connell, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen. We all gave our best, to give you the best, with Hayden spearheading it.”
Olga Sokolova was the movement coordinator, and Tom O’Connell is credited as Darth Vader’s stunt double (see the two of them with Hayden Christensen in the picture above). It’s also interesting the fact that he mentions James Earl Jones’ name — after seeing his name in the credits for two episodes now, we still don’t really know how they did the voice.
The Ukrainian company Respeecher, which worked on The Mandalorian season 2 finale and Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett to bring Mark Hamill’s younger voice to life, appears in the credits of the episodes. In both of those shows, Mark Hamill did not record new lines of dialogue, and the company instead used an AI to digitally weave Luke’s voice. If James Earl Jones was actively involved with Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s possible that instead of creating the dialogue from scratch, they simply used the AI to alter his voice and make it sound like the Vader we saw in A New Hope.
Hopefully, the inevitable episode of Disney Gallery focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi will answer these questions, in a similar way to what they did with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. It’s unknown at this point when that will air (it hasn’t even been announced), though Disney Plus Day on September 8 seems like a perfect day for it.
Here is Bistrevsky’s post on Twitter:
We got the best, only for you, because you deserve it. 🌌 pic.twitter.com/lsH6QxqajE
— Dmitrious Bistrevsky (@demeet2k) June 9, 2022